I haven't yet, but tomorrow (Father's Day) will be my first batch...
About a month ago, I was browsing the book section of a local thrift shop (like the Salvation Army). I usually go about once a week searching for "treasures". I found a copy of Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" for $0.50. It looked interesting, so I bought it.
I read it from cover to cover. There was a lot of interesting, informative and humorous information in it. I thought to myself: "Self, this looks like it might be fun, but the startup costs might be a bit prohibitive for something I'm not going to like doing."
Then I remembered... My grandfather had been a wine maker all of his life, and he had a wine cellar in the basement of the house in which my mom was living. So I asked her: "Is grandpa's wine making stuff still in the basement?" She said: "I think it is. We gave away his hand made wine press and hand made barrels to a friend who makes wine." I asked if the key was still there, and she said that she thought it was... Ummmm... No. So she hands me a few key rings with about 75 keys on them, 50 of which could fit the master lock on the wine cellar. So I tried them one at a time, and at about 30 hit the jackpot and it opened.
I pulled the string by the door to turn on the light and the circular flourescents started to brighten, then went out! Crap! So I went upstairs and got a light bulb to put in the regular fixture. I turned on the light and discovered.
Two 5 gal glass carboys with fermentation locks.
Two 5 gal plastic carboys.
Assorted tubing that had been engineered by my grandfather for unattended siphoning.
A tubing shut-off gizmo (will be great for bottling)
An stand-up bottle capper.
A plastic garbage can with lid containing a 2.5 gal bucket and a funnel.
The room has a raised shelf around two walls with a sturdy table designed for sitting on top of it for assorted gravity siphoning.
So my next trip was to the local home brew shop. I bought.
A 5 gal Dunkelweisen kit.
24 22-oz Beer bottles.
New tubing (threw out all the nasty rubber stuff that was there, kept the engineering enhancements, though.
Two new corks.
I cleaned out my working carboy and filled it with hot water with 2oz of Chlorox and have let it sit for a few days. I am also soaking my fermentation locks and new corks in the same solution.
One thing I learned from Papazian was "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew". I can't have a homebrew yet because it's my first batch. But I can relax and not worry.
I'm going to be working with my daughter tomorrow (who I invited to brew the first batch with me) and pretty much following the instructions in the kit. A couple of mods will be (and feel free to tell me they won't work).
1. Instead of seeping the grains in 165 degree water for 20 min like the instructions say, I'm going to be putting them in the cold water, bringing the whole 2 gal up to a boil, and taking the grains out just before it starts a rolling boil. The rest of the hopping instructions I'll follow to the letter, boiling the whole thing for 55 minutes, the last 5 dedicated to flavoring hops.
2. I'm putting 3 gal of refrigerated water in the carboy, and will be pouring the hot wort through a strainer/funnel into the chilled water. Then I'm going to affix an aquarium thermometer onto the middle of the carboy.
Later that evening I'll return and check the temp. If it's 70 or below, I'll pitch the yeast. I probably won't go back for at least 3 days to check the fermentation.
I'm going to work hardest on RDWHAHB